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  • Greystone Park
  • Brian Tierney (bio)

Psychiatric Hospital, New Jersey

I pause at a row of rusted, part-opened doors & spear thistle stalks        that the cracked, shifted floors grewerratically with leak-rain & just enough sun spotting through the ceiling

& coming in the hallway, then looked down the long, curved hallwayof shredded red paint & softer cream colors, messy-peeled: like skin

on an arm, if a grater slips. Water damage, I say to Tim, with me        on a dare, here—an extension builtto relieve the Trenton madhouse several train-stops south, where

you could buy a tab of acid from a guy they call, no shit, E. C. Lobotomyfor the scar across his head. Two small hits. Now crumpled green

cans from other visits, & other items I can't determine, float like water        lettuce in a puddlein the first room, & I swear I hear breathing. So which of these fuckers was

hers?—meaning my great aunt Evelyn, Babe for short—her cell, of courseI don't know: that was the overcrowded decades of gland removal

& insulin-shock, when ersatz beds in the attic even echoed with chest-        belts squeaking at every flinch; leathergloves gripping a steering wheel in winter, she said once, at breakfast,

poking a fork through the lymphatic cherry center of a Danish, thensort of laughed. As I listen in, close enough to Tim kicking stray metal

instruments in a janitor's closet in the western half, I hear it again: her silver        prongs hitting the plate,going too deep. Her laugh as good as scream. Pete, her husband, who [End Page 112]

in her every dream, for at least three months after dying, died again deliveringcuts of beef in the city, in '60; the word, by phone, when she heard

was a hole she never crawled out of, waiting for the ECT to breathe        behind her eyes with its brief seizuresthat lift you from the eyes, the way midday light wavers & rises almost

invisibly over standing water on a hot day in Morris Plains, after rain—until each color surrounding you, then, has a sound you can imagine

has no end, but in the body. I can tell by the water-stains on the walls        near the restraints onlybutchers would've known about in those days, dropping another tab

that dissolves on my tongue like olanzapine in a glass of water: holeswhere holes are not supposed to be. [End Page 113]

Brian Tierney

Brian Tierney is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry and a graduate of the Bennington College MFA Writing Seminars. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review, Gettysburg Review, FIELD, Best New Poets, Ninth Letter, AGNI, Poetry Northwest, the Rumpus, and others. In 2013, Narrative Magazine named him among its "30 Below 30" emerging writers. He currently lives in Oakland, California.



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